Friday, March 29, 2013

Dumb Reasons People Call Me, Pt 1

check me out over on Street Carnage.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Am I crazy? Well I want to be a Los Angeles Police Officer, don't I?

Before you can come on the job, you have to take a psychological battery followed by a psychological interview. One of them was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. One of it's initial primary goals when it was formed in the 1930's was to test for latent homosexuality. The battery is the MMPI plus one or two other multiple choice tests, totaling more than 1700 questions and answers that you must bubble in with a #2 pencil. It'll take you around two and a half to three and a half hours. If you're not anxious, mentally exhausted and possibly a little crazy before this, you will be after.

Once you're done with this, a few days later your results get distilled and processed and a City Psychologist looks over your answers and then you have a sit-down, face to face interview to flesh out any possible ambiguities or questions brought out by the battery of tests. For around the past twenty years or so, you could either get the male City Psychologist, who was odd in that he had a goofy poem printed out using Printshop on the front of his desk about handshakes.

I won't shake your hand, because you may have a cold, or I may have a cold. I mean no disrespect I just don't want to spread sickness.

This person is the gatekeeper between me and a badge and a gun. The other City Psychologist was a woman who was so germ phobic that she would only open the drawers on her desk with antibacterial wipes. I guess like it takes a wolf to catch a wolf, it takes a little crazy to catch crazy. I drew the male City Psychologist. Things were going fine, it seemed like a normal enough interview (not counting having to stare at the Printshop evidence that he's at least a little coo coo) when everything stopped and I got asked the oddest question. "So you were an intern at the American Enterprise Institute? They employ an awful lot of libertarians. Are you a libertarian?" I was and still am an avid Hayek reader, admirer of Nat Hentoff, Ayn Rand and Lord Acton and had while in college I attended summer seminars put on by various liberty oriented groups. I answered, "Yes." I then got a truly odd question, "Are you one of those libertarians who thinks we should have no government?"

What the -- !?

I wanted to say, "Well OBVIOUSLY NOT if I'm HERE applying my ass off to get a job with the City of LA. Only the most radical of anarcho-capitalists don't believe we should not have any police. Nothing in my answers or background indicate I am such an anarchist." Instead I offered, "No." He then took it from there talking about how he frequently listened to Larry Elder who is a black libertarian who broadcasts out of LA, and that he respects him for how smart and polished he is, but frequently disagrees and almost calls in and almost writes emails but has more important things to do. Like compose poems about not handshaking apparently. Classical Liberalism, and libertarianism means small, limited government. I love catching bad guys who commit violent crime and steal shit - clearly even Lysander Spooner would approve of the local government being so empowered to prevent and investigate crime via a police force. I always ask my staunchly libertarian friends, "Think about it, would you rather deal with a copper like me who understands limited government, freedom, liberty, individual rights and the constitution or would you rather have a badge heavy progressive / totalitarian who sees the constitution as an obstacle to work around?"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I ... I just can't, I can't!

I remember once in college, I had a professor say, "Wittgenstein was a really odd guy. He was this super cerebral philosopher and enthusiastically fought in World War I. When he was teaching a class, he used to a lot of the time show up like fifteen minutes late, sit at the head of the class for ten or fifteen minutes just muttering, "I ... I just can't ... I can't, I'm out of my league ..." and then eventually run out of his classroom.

Sometimes I feel like that with this blog.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Responsibility & Grace

Have you wondered what the young lady who breastfed her son on the cover of Time last year is up to now? Lot's. Here's a phenomenal and recent piece. In case you missed it, all over her blog and in the Time article Jamie Lynn was not shy about sharing the fact that she is a practicing Christian and was raised to be one also.

This is a truly remarkable blog entry. I'm astounded that someone "so young"* is a) this squared away in her mid 20's to have such sober thoughts, b) actually did this and followed through and c) wrote something very sophisticated and yet accessible about it.

When I was in my mid 20's I was doing all I could to stay employed as a Probationary Police Officer with the police department. I didn't posses the gear to organize my thoughts so well, and then follow through and deliver a message like that.

I was struck by how Ms Jamie Lynn was able to express her sorrow at losing her brother, yet didn't transfer this into anger at the person - or the organization the person worked for - who ended his life.

We hear way, way too many people blame the proximate cause of their friend or relative's death - police officers (and the department that employs them) or civilians (and the gun they used, or the Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground or whatever) defending themselves. Rarely does a surviving relative say, "Pookie / Jose / Chad just shouldn't have robbed that liquor store at 2am. He pointed a gun at the cashier's head. What did he think was going to happen?"

The author does not try do diminish her brother's responsibility. She lays the blame on her brother's crippling addiction and reaches out to speak with the officer involved. It's refreshing when someone truly understands responsibility. The grace shown by the author, her father and even the retired copper gives me quite a bit of optimism. When someone says, "What can one person do?" I think this young lady gave a clear answer.

I'm struck by this because I know this will never see the light of day in the mainstream media. the LA Times, local news and national news are all too busy trying to show you conflict, man's inhumanity to man and who you should despise to tell a sophisticated story that shows you the true beauty and grace of people living their faith in Jesus.

*so young is in quotes because our society seems to think it's a non-stop party from 13-30. How often do you hear about 26 year old "kids"?

Rollin' Concealed-Carry Style

My latest on Street Carnage is up.


A BIG hat tip to Thunderwear. You guys rock.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Funerals Pt II or Daryl Gates - Oderint Dum Metuant

I don't like police funerals. No, I don't like line of duty funerals. I don't mind burying a retired copper who died at age 89, took the City for 30 + years of pension ... that's sweet. What kills me is saying bye to an officer who got killed in the line of duty. One of the things the movie End of Watch got right was how big, emotional and dignified police funerals are. In the movie, when Officer Taylor gets up to speak at his partner, Officer Zavala's funeral he's speechless. Of the two line of duty funerals I attended neither partner got up to speak. I can't imagine getting up to speak at a current partner's funeral.

I heard former Chief Bratton give two eulogies, one for Officer Ricardo Lizarraga and one for SWAT Officer Randal Simmons. His eulogy for Officer Lizarraga was very adroit and professional - it was what you would expect a Chief of a big city department to say about one of his fallen officers. As for Simmons' eulogy, I haven't heard it reported anywhere but it was a bit jarring. Chief Bratton spoke after a few family members and former partners of Simmons. The quintessentially unflappable Bratton was uncharacteristically nervous and unpolished. Those who spent any time watching him on TV whether it was in NY or here in LA know that he is above all else, polished and smooth. However he had trouble starting. So he did an old public speaking trick to get momentum to start his speech, he began listing who was in attendance. In his characteristic Boston accent he called attention to the dignitaries in attendance:

Here today we have Gov Schwarzenegger (polite applause) ... LA County Sheriff Baca (a little louder applause) ... Mayor Villaraigoza (a smattering of applause) ... former Chief Parks (nothing. Not even crickets.) and former Chief Daryl Gates - (instantaneously the Faith Dome erupted.)

Five minutes, sustained and very loud standing ovation.

Once the outburst subsided, Bratton's eulogy continued, and he "landed the plane" as they say and finished his thoughts in a dignified manner expected of a big city Chief.

I was there. I stood. I loudly applauded and I cheered. It was '08. I was tired. I was tired of getting kicked in the teeth all too often by administration, TV and print media who would all too often put the bullseye on me and my brother and sister officers rather than actual criminals. I was sick of Chief Bratton who thought the worst thing you could do was embarrass him on TV. I was also sick of the after effects of Parks' Reign of Terror. I had had enough of losing valuable tools due to political expediency. I stood. I stood proudly and clapped and hollered loudly for the last truly 100%, pro-cop Chief the LAPD had seen. I'm not aware that he ever uttered the exact phrase, Oderint Dum Metuant (Latin for let them hate, so long as they fear) but by his actions he sure did. For those of you unawares, the "them" in that phrase would be violent criminals.

Daryl Gates is not without his faults. My classical liberal (libertarian) blood stirs when I recall how it was his personal testimony in Sacramento that moved the state legislature to pass some of the strictest Victim Disarmament laws in the country. He often said odd things about minorities and was an unrepentant drug warrior. In short, he wasn't perfect. Only Jesus Christ is. But dammit he hated crime. He saw supporting the vast majority of good officers as a way to keep morale high. He wasn't some doofus in a Chief's outfit, playing leader - doing things he thinks are politically expedient rather than what will bring down crime - like we've had since. No, he was the real deal - not perfect but he was about letting his police officers enforce the spirit of the law and lock up criminals. Chief Gates has since passed away. All of us who take this job seriously will miss him dearly.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How do you say Goodbye to a great Officer? or Funerals Pt I

Special thanks to Stand Firm in Faith for the above.

I have attended five funerals for coppers who have died in the line of duty since coming on roughly ten years ago. I have to say, Chief Diaz of Riverside's eulogy (the one right above) is very good, powerful and most of all personal. I was crying throughout this, but I completely lost it when he began speaking to Officer Crain's surviving children. This was easily the best eulogy I've heard a Chief give.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Steve Byrne

Years ago, I was laughing my ass off at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. Steve Byrne was on stage, killing. This was when he was billed as half-Irish and half-Korean. He's now billed as all-American. Fuck, yes. While I'm also part Irish and half Spanish (not Mexican, gringos) I now see myself as all-American. I've had it w/ the hyphenates.

This night, he was at a part in his act that required audience participation. He was telling a joke about how to fight. So he's asking people in the 3rd row when the last time they got in a fight, the first two hadn't been in a fight in years, then he got to me;

Steve Byrne: When have you been in a fight?

Me: Last week.

Steve Byrne: What happened?

Me: I was trying to arrest a guy and he fought me.

Steve Byrne: (very confused) you uh... you fought a cop?

Me: I am a cop. I was trying to arrest someone.

Steve Byrne: (His face gets all excited) "You're a cop? CONVERSATION OVER!"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Adventures in Flying or Curse you, stomach!

Since I can remember I've been susceptible to motion sickness. From when I was really little like 5 or 6 and I'd puke after riding up Pacific Coast Highway, to my teenage years when I tried one roller coaster at Six Flags (Flashback) and then promptly found other things to do that day after it made my spine and neck feel so bad that they tried to remove themselves from my body, all the way until now. A great partner of mine got annoyed at this and showed me a neat trick that cured me 99% of my motion sickness that I’ll share with you. I would get nauseous in the black and white when I would be updating the Log of Activities. My partner told me that I don’t need the car stopped to avoid getting sick. If we were parked in a crummy neighborhood, that was not a very strategic position to be in. He said to look up, look straight ahead and reset your eyes on the horizon whenever the car accelerated, decelerated or changed direction. This would reset my equilibrium and avoid nausea. It’s worked so far every time in the black and white and elsewhere.

Among the perks of working for a big metropolitan police department is the sheer variety of jobs available, well over 200. You can be a patrol copper, like Taylor and Zavala from End of Watch, you can be SWAT, K9, Bomb Squad, a detective (within detectives there are a bunch more options) and on and on. Then, there's the Air Ship (or what non-coppers call the police helicopter). The Air Ship is our eye in the sky. If coppers on the ground are pursuing a stolen vehicle, or in foot pursuit of a suspected criminal, if we can get the Air Ship overhead our chances of catching the person go from really good to almost certain. The Air Ship provides the department with a distinct tactical advantage. It always has at least two police officers, one pilot, one observer. The pilot’s job is to fly the Air Ship - no small task. The observer's job is to do everything else: watch what's going on on the ground, give direction to officers on the ground, coordinate with news helicopters and airplanes to avoid collisions, etc., etc. These also guys get paid much more than the rank and file who push a black and white. It's also fun! Hence the two reasons I wanted to be in the Air Ship, money and fun. What else is there? So a few years ago I took the first step, I went on a "fly along" in the Air Ship. Air Ship officers get to wear cool looking hybrid police flight suits/uniforms. Seriously how fucking sweet do those unis look? Most of these guys are more than a little cocky. After going up all I can say is they have reason to be. FLYING IS THE SHIT! Flying over Los Angeles in a helicopter is amazing. First off, no traffic. If you want to get from the tip of San Pedro down in Harbor Division all the way to the very northwest corner of the city in Chatsworth which is Devonshire division (over fifty miles) you’re talking fifteen, maybe twenty minutes flying . This would be a two hour drive most days, a little over an hour at night without traffic. The craziest thing is how fast everything moves. I mean what would take you twenty to thirty minutes to drive to in your car takes under five minutes in the Air Ship. The landmarks look wild from up in the sky and it’s like you’re seeing a lot of the stuff for the first time. MacArthur Park still looks like a shit hole. The LA Memorial Coliseum is surreal. There wasn’t anything going on, so it wasn’t lit up. The lights from the city cast the biggest shadow over the inside, it looked like a giant, black void. I was observing the pilot and the observer work when a Back Up Request came out in 77th division, possible burglary suspects at Locke High School. The Air Ship abruptly changed course, and flew directly there. Once near the high school, the Air Ship began its orbit, which is a hard and continuous left turn. Our Air Ships don’t hover because a) it’s really difficult and b) in case of a catastrophic engine failure, forward momentum gives you the best chance at survival. The pilot sits in the right seat, so the leftward orbit is so the observer can see best. If it went the other way all he’d see looking out the side would be sky. So after about five minutes of this my stomach decided it had had enough and immediately began trying to free itself from my body. I must have looked awful because I felt green. The observer had told me to tell them if I got ill. Before going up I contemplated Dramamine, but I decided against that because I wanted to be awake and alert the whole time. So I chose a mega dose of Ginger, which is supposed to naturally do what Dramamine does. Sadly, Ginger was no match for five minutes of orbiting. I grabbed the airsick bag, told the observer I wasn’t feeling well and he said over the engine noise, “Alright, no problem! We’ll head in quickly. Just fix your eyes on the horizon and BREATHE DEEPLY!” I did as I was told and felt like I was going to spew my guts out but somehow didn’t until they were done orbiting. I was a little better once they leveled off and then made the seemingly 2 minute flight from 77th to land at Air Support headquarters. Once we landed I felt awful and sweaty in a cold and gross sort of way. I took my time and had a Diet Coke, the carbonation really agreed with my stomach and I then went home. I’m glad I went up. I used to seriously daydream about being the observer, getting paid well to ride in a police helicopter all day and tell everyone where to go and what to do. This dream was no more, but now, onto other adventures.

Monday, March 4, 2013